Brad Mills Interview
Brad Mills is the creative force behind up and coming homage to 80s horror The Legend of the Psychotic Forest Ranger. Billed as a “B horror movie that is straight out of the 80s” and “full of plot holes and cheesy dialogue”, it tells the story of a bunch of kids that take a wrong turn and get stranded in the woods. As if that wasn’t bad enough, the area is said to be roamed by the murderous character of the film’s title. Now where have we heard that before?
Daniel Benson: Brad, welcome to HorrorTalk. For our readers who aren’t aware, can you give us some background on yourself, how you got into filmmaking, and what inspired you to make LOTPFR?
Brad Mills: I'm from Cape Breton, which is on the east coast of Canada. We're famous for lobsters, high unemployment rates, call centers & the arts. Everyone back home seems to be super talented at something creative — whether it's playing an instrument, acting, writing or skateboarding.
I was a clown as a kid — no seriously, I was a clown, starting from when I was 9 years old I did clown and magic shows with my sister Jacquelyn... it kept us off the streets. I didn't have many friends growing up, but I had lots of rabbits, doves & glitter. As I started developing a sense of self-awareness (and embarrassment) I started writing & performing sketch comedies and plays instead.
One of my pals introduced me to the movie Psycho Cop in high school, a real classic cult stinker — and that's probably when I started dreaming about making movies. My sister was a big Scream fan, I remember her making horror shorts based on Scream when we were younger.
DB: You scored some great artwork by Tom Hodges (Hobo with a Shotgun, The Innkeepers) that gives a funky 80s look to the poster, how did this come about?
BM: The poster is so awesome, I'm so happy with the way it turned out — and working with Tom has been awesome — it's an honor to be included in his body of work, he's definitely a cult classic figure in the making. I loved his work on Hobo, and when I pitched him the job to work on the Psychotic Forest Ranger one-sheet, I wasn't sure if he was going to have time.
Thankfully, Tom is a fan of 80s horror films and sexual favors. His time is valuable, and he's well worth the cost. I'd contract hepatitis from him again in a heartbeat.
DB: Is the hugemongous axe in the poster a nod to dodgy 3D titles of the era (I’m looking at you Friday 13th 3-D), or is it simply saying “This guy carries one big-ass axe”?
BM: The poster definitely draws inspiration from classics like Friday the 13th, and yes even films like Silent Madness 3D. We pretty much gave Tom a blank canvas and total creative control.
He really wanted to create the biggest, most bad ass poster for a horror film poster — like he did with the boomstick in the Hobo With A Shotgun poster. We did a photo-shoot with The Ranger (Michael G MacDonald), and Tom sketched out some screens for him to pose in — here's one of the storyboards for the poster, to give you an idea of Tom's creative prowess:
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Here's an example of one of the photos from the photoshoot, courtesy of Corey Katz:
DB: Speaking of Michael G MacDonald, he looks like a big, scary guy in the photos. Does he bring this presence to the screen?
BM: Michael is a powerful actor, he's a seasoned theatre pro, and he brings this to the screen as well. He is also a bit of a method actor, so it was an interesting experience filming scenes with him on set, in the middle of the creepy woods, in character as a psychotic killer. The adrenaline was pumping during our scene together, that's for sure.
He definitely inspires good performances, Michael and Colleen MacIsaac have a great scene near the end when things start to get serious. I think we only had to do 1 take, because they had worked together in theatre before so they had a previous chemistry going that they could pull from.
DB: It seems a lot of directors that make a stalk and slash movie base the main antagonist round a legend or urban myth close to home. Did you do this, or is the Forest Ranger simply a product of your mind being warped from too many cheap horrors?
BM: Haha yeah man pretty much, just a lot of old horror movies, he's a mixture of all the classic killers, with most of the influence taken from Officer Joe Vickers, aka Psycho Cop. I figure that is going to speak to fans more than some local legend that might mean something to like 5000 people.
The Ranger has epic eighties theme music, along with the clichéd "watching teenagers from the bushes" POV shots. He mysteriously appears in front of his victims, even when they are running away from him. He somehow comes back to life after being killed, which must mean he has satanic powers (gotta love '80s screenplay logic). He walks as slow as a '70s zombie, but somehow outruns everyone and he effortlessly offs teens as if he was squishing flies.
Did I mention he has no backstory and he eats people?
DB: So, convince me, why is LOTPFR going to deliver? We all know certain films ride a tsunami of hype up until release, yet their promises of a return to the 80s fall somewhat flat. How are you going to buck that trend?
BM: I hope we get a tsunami of hype, that would be helpful! I hate when films are misrepresented in the ad campaigns though — when marketing assholes get a hold of it and just spin it and spend it to death... I was so pissed off at Day Breakers because of that.
I'm a huge fan of The Lost Skeleton of Cadavra, and what Larry Blamire did with that movie. It was a big inspiration for us. We made Ranger based on that formula — ie. being authentic to the genre.
We don't make stupid jokes about how we're making a movie, and we don't break the 4th wall. From the the screenplay to the poster to the trailer — we wanted to give an authentic feel of a film that came right out of the 80s. Although we couldn't shoot on film, we did use a Redrock 35 MM lens adapter, and we averaged 2-3 takes per shot.
The finished product is awesome. I laugh my ass off when I watch this film, I just can't WAIT to show it to horror fans! If you're a fan of films like Sleepaway Camp, Friday The 13th, Motel Hell & Basket Case — Ranger is going to be a kickass film for you that we hope will fit in your dvd collection (or torrent collection, I don't kid myself that nobody will download it).
DB: It’s interesting that you mention torrents of your movie and I guess any filmmaker has to take the view that it WILL happen. Do you see it as a way to reach a wider audience, or as a hindrance to recouping your investment in the movie?
BM: I see a lot of filmmakers, actors, etc talking about torrents as this evil thing, but I don't share that view...maybe I will some day in the future, who knows. I actually ran a poll on the fan page because I was curious if I was the only one who didn't think it was such a big deal — you can see it here:
The majority of people (even other filmmakers) answered that it's just a part of life.
I see it as a great opportunity to get the film in front of fans! I don't care if people download and watch it for free. If they like it, they will tell others about it, and it will get the word out about the film — that's a good thing right?
I know it is going to get seeded, so I might as well seed the release myself, and put a short bit before and after it plays asking people to go to our website and like us on Facebook if they enjoyed it.
DB: So when can we actually hope to see the film? Do you have distribution sorted yet, or are you taking the indie route and distributing yourself?
BM: There's a lot of great distributors out there that we want to work with. I would love to get picked up by Magnet Releasing — they have picked up a few Canadian made films already this year, Hobo With A Shotgun & Tucker & Dale vs Evil! We can't wait to take the film to festivals and then hopefully develop a strong relationship with a distributor where we can make some more films.
Of course being a web guy, I want to get it on netflix, amazon plus and all those VOD options so you can rent it on your favorite video site.
DB: Finally, I read that your “day job” is creating applications for the likes of Facebook and iPhone. If LOTPFR is a huge success will you go back to software, or will you start working on a sequel? Every trashy '80s movie needs a sequel!
BM: I would love to do both! I have a desire to make films in other genres as well, but we have to do a sequel.
My plan is to release the Horror Movie Game, in this game you can play as the psychotic forest ranger, cleaning up the forest from litter and teenagers. You collect things from the movie after you kill people, then you can travel to different locations to play as other horror movie characters!
Here's an early beta screenshot!
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I'm hoping horror movie fans will come play the game and join the community, then I plan to open up a contest to the community to write the sequel, and let people from the community audition to be in the film as well.
We'll see what happens, make sure to follow us on Facebook http://www.thelegendistrue.com to see what we're up to next!
DB: Brad, thanks for spending some time answering my questions, and good luck with the movie!
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